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Dotcom start-ups should copy the porn industry if they want to be successful.

That's the advice of sex industry entrepreneurs, who reckon they are way ahead when it comes to using the Web for business. Sex sites were the first to recognise the opportunities of the Net and the sector also went through the e-learning curve quicker than the rest, they claim.

Whereas traditional e-tail giants like Amazon are still patiently waiting to break into profit, most porn sites rode into profit within since months of launch. Many have been in the black for five years, and the crème of sleaze sites don't settle for less than 20 per cent profit, Reuters reports.

Nasdaq-listed Private, which has three million visitors per month, saw first quarter profit of 29 per cent. While Canada's Casa Rosso - a spin-off of the Amsterdam red light district club - has a gross profit margin of 20 per cent.

Their secret? Many cut costs wherever possible because they are forced to operate on a tight cash flow basis - it is hard to get a bank account if you sell sex, apparently. This means they have copied the multinationals and started operations in cheaper countries like the Czech Republic.

Many also quickly cottoned on to the importance of keeping sites easy to navigate - and were among the first to use java software programmes that scrapped the need for "plug-ins" to play videos. Something failed sports e-tailer Boo.com's hi-tech site could have benefited from.

In slightly related news, a survey out today revealed Americans cited sex and watching TV as their favourite ways to fall asleep. ®

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